UPDATE: APRIL FOOLS! – But would Efron be a good pick for Eddie Brock?
Following this week’s Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, Sony announces that Neighbors and Baywatch star Zac Efron has been cast for the lead role of Eddie Brock in the Venom spinoff movie. Venom had languished in production hell for several years, following the collapse of the studio’s planned Spider-Man shared universe (which was set to include the Venom project, Amazing Spider-Man sequels, and a Sinister Six team-up movie). Originally, Transformers and Star Trek writer Alex Kurtzman was attached to helm Venom, with Drew Goddard (now executive producing the Marvel Netflix series) in charge of Sinister Six.
Nevertheless, after the panning of Amazing Spider-Man 2, which received harsh criticism for trying to setup franchise sequels rather than service the current film story, Sony’s spinoff plans became less clear. Reports suggested the studio might relaunch Venom as a standalone property, separate from the MCU continuity their new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) would share – but producers remained reluctant to clarify the speculation, likely because they were waiting to see how their third Spider-Man iteration in less than a decade would be received by fans.
With Civil War behind them and strong buzz for Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, not to mention the mega team-up Infinity War already filming, Sony is showing renewed confidence in the idea of Venom, setting a fall 2018 release date for the movie – with Jumanji reboot writers Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner penning the script. Coupled with movement on the script and release window, the casting of Efron makes it increasingly likely that 2018 date is a real release target, not just a symbolic placeholder.
News of Efron’s involvement broke via a tweet from the actors account, which you can see below:
The tweet has since been deleted, likely because Sony has yet to make an official announcement. Of course, Efron isn’t the first actor to reveal or confirm casting that a studio was hoping to unveil on their own schedule – via more traditional means. After all, Efron’s future co-star, Tom Holland hinted at his own Spider-Man franchise casting days before Sony officially revealed him as their new Peter Parker.
Efron’s attachment to Venom is sure to worry some comic book movie fans – that is to say: those who still associate the actor with his High School Musical persona. However, in the years since, Efron has grown and evolved as a performer, especially in the comedy genre. The actor’s work in Neighbors, opposite Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, won-over a lot of his detractors, and the actor carried that good will forward through the past several years and projects (including the upcoming Baywatch reboot alongside Dwaye Johnson).
Still, considering that Venom is reported to be an R-Rated sci-fi/horror movie, Efron will need to show a drastically different side of his repertoire. The actor has stretched out into traditional dramatic work, most notably in Charlie St. Cloud and the upcoming P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman; yet, portraying tortured anti-hero Eddie Brock will necessitate that Efron explore places no prior role will have taken him (insert standard Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight comparisons). In spite of the whiney, one-note version of Brock (played by Topher Grace) that was shoe-horned into Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, modern comic book readers could point to countless Venom storylines that portray the rogue as a layered antagonist (sometimes hero) with a unique sense of morality.
After all, Venom’s story is a relatable one – packed with symbolism – and a mirrored juxtaposition to Spider-Man’s mantra: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Specifically, what if the aforementioned power was actually an alien life form capable of enhancing and influencing its host – and what if that host isn’t the most honorable guy on the block? Casual filmgoers might assume Venom is a flat villain but, merged with Eddie Brock, the character provides an intriguing opportunity to reflect of human nature. That is to say: we all give in to the monster inside of us from time to time.
At the very least, fans can rest assured that the muscly Eddie Brock will be portrayed by an actor who has already conquered the superhero shred diet. Efron might be a foot shorter than comic book Brock but the actor’s Baywatch body is reminiscent of the source material’s broad-shouldered physique – and however much Efron falls short in real life height, the Venom symbiote can easily make up the difference.
Now that fans know who will play Venom, attention turns to which storylines the writers might adapt as well as whether or not Venom will ever be folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Right now, Sony is suggesting that Venom will be entirely separate but in a world where Zac Efron is playing Eddie Brock, anything seems possible.